A Q&A with chef Matty Matheson about MattyFest, being big in Japan and his fancy new restaurant

A Q&A with chef Matty Matheson about MattyFest, being big in Japan and his fancy new restaurant

Matty Matheson Photo by Aaron Wynia

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On September 7, Toronto’s most outrageous chef will host an ambitious music festival with killer food—or ambitious food festival with killer music, depending on your perspective. MattyFest will take place at Echo Beach. The one-day extravaganza will feature food from some of the best restaurants in Toronto (Donna’s, Famiglia Baldassarre, Le Swan), Montreal (Le Bremner, Maison Publique) and beyond, including a bunch of barbecue from American pitmasters. Oh, and a concert headlined by the freaking Wu-Tang Clan. Here, Matty Matheson talks to Toronto Life about his ambitions for MattyFest, being big in Japan and why his new Toronto restaurant will be his most mature project yet.

Let’s talk MattyFest. What’s it going to be like? Why should people come?

MattyFest will hopefully be the greatest fest in the world—ever. That name came from what we used to call my birthday parties back when I was the chef at Parts & Labour. This was before I got sober, so MattyFest was basically a three-day bender. I have a lot of friends who are in bands, and they would play in the basement and it was just really epic. Sometimes too epic. After I got clean we stopped doing it, and then last year I started thinking that it would be fun to do something. I had some meetings with Live Nation and they loved the idea and how it came from a genuine place of me being a big music lover. And then of course the food is going to be amazing.

How amazing?

Imagine being at a music festival and being able to have tortellini en brodo or a porchetta sandwich or an amazing vegan salad. My thought was restaurant-quality food at a festival. I think we have about 20 chefs and then 15 bands. And Wu-Tang Clan headlining, which is cool. I’m a little nervous to meet those guys. Hopefully we become best friends.


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What else are you up these days?

Well, right now I’m lying on the couch in my office. But I’m keeping really busy. I just got back from a trip to Japan, I’m working on a clothing line, a second book, I shot a whole new YouTube show that I’m putting out myself. I think 2020 is going to be a big year for me supporting myself. People are going to see even more Matty.

Even more than we see on your Instagram account?


What were you doing in Japan?

I was doing a Matty’s Patty’s pop-up. I did one in Oahu in Hawaii last December and then I did this one in Shibuya in Tokyo. We’re doing a third one in Toronto the day before MattyFest at Stackt Market. It’s funny because I kind of thought I was done with burgers.

You’ll never be done!

I know. It’s cool, though. In Tokyo everyone was so stoked. It was like 100 degrees, so I didn’t think anyone was going to come, but then people just kept showing up. We made 500 burgers and we sold out and people still kept coming. They wanted me to sign anything—sign my napkin, sign my cell phone case. You can’t even buy my cookbook in Japan, but a lot of people had it, so that was really cool and sweet to see.


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My sources tell me you’re also working on a new Toronto restaurant. Anything you want to share?

I don’t want to say the name yet, but you can see the big white building at Queen and Shaw. It’s going to be the most mature restaurant I’ve ever opened. The most mature thing I’ve ever done really. I could probably do well opening another burgers and fried chicken place, but this is going to be something totally different

Will you be cooking there?

I will definitely be cooking and conceptualizing the menu, but I will have a chef de cuisine—Coulson Armstrong who was previously at Canoe.

Anything you can tell us about the food? The vibe?

The vibe? Hmmmm… the vibe is fancy and expensive. Well, Matty-fancy.

Meaning please wear pants?

Ha! I don’t care if you wear pants as long as you bring your wallet. I’m kidding. I just know that with this new project I don’t want to compromise on ingredients, which means spending money. I want to add to the culinary tapestry of Canada and make a restaurant that I’m truly proud of.


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